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Biden Authorizes 5,000 Troops To Protect Afghanistan Drawdown; Interview With Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO); At Least 227 Dead After 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Haiti; Doctor: This Is Starting To Look Ominous In The South"; Hospitals Overwhelmed As Delta Surges Among Unvaccinated; Tropical Storm Grace Forms In Atlantic As Fred Nears Florida. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 14, 2021 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST (voice over): Afghanistan in chaos as Taliban control tightens and the U.S. scrambles to rescue its allies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are people we relied on. We promised that we wouldn't leave them behind.

BROWN (voice over): American troops rushing to get U.S. staff out of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.) PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: I expect that by the end of the weekend, the bulk of the 3,000 will be in place.

BROWN (voice over): Deaths and devastation after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hits Haiti.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can see new harrowing images, new accounts of dead being pulled from rubble. People being treated in the open air.

BROWN (voice over): Haiti's Prime Minister declaring a state of emergency as the U.S. Geological Survey warns of rising casualties and widespread destruction.

Hospitals overwhelmed by seriously ill patients as the delta variant tears across the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The situation is dire, and we are simply out of time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have zero ICU beds left for children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: I am Pamela Brown in Washington. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Our breaking news tonight, President Biden is authorizing 5,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan a mere four months after he announced the U.S. was pulling out. It's the latest sign the Afghan government is on the edge of collapse after 20 years and the trillion dollars the U.S. has spent backing it.

These images show Afghan civilians on the run from the fighting.

Five more capital cities have fallen to the Taliban in the last 24 hours. Now, 22 of the 34 regional capitals are under the militant group's control. Only two major cities, Kabul and Jalalabad remain under the Afghan government.

This time lapse from the Long War Journal shows the speed the Taliban gained territory, just see how quickly the red spreads starting in mid-April after the President announced the U.S. withdrawal.

Let me get straight to CNN's Natasha Bertrand. Natasha, before we explain what these additional forces will do, tell us about what led to President Biden's decision here sending in more troops.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, well, the President has always really believed that this was a war that he wanted to end, and that he wanted to pull these troops out. But the recent justification that we've seen from the White House is that the Trump administration really made a bad deal here that tied their hands.

Just tonight, President Biden issued a statement and he said that the Doha settlement that the Trump administration made with the Taliban last year in February 2020, was a deal that made it impossible for them to stay any longer -- for the U.S. to stay any longer. He kind of ribbed Trump by saying that Trump was going to invite the Taliban to Camp David to kind of formalize this agreement. Of course, that never ended up actually happening.

But it was just an example of the President kind of shifting the blame back to the Trump administration saying our only option here was either to increase the troop presence or withdraw, and what White House officials have been telling us is, look, there was not an option here, that we were not in any way going to increase the troop presence, that was never going to happen, so they decided they had to pull out entirely.

So, now what these 5,000 troops are going to be doing there is they are going to be protecting the civilian employees there that are evacuating now as the Taliban kind of closes in on Kabul. And they are going to be hopefully providing some kind of a deterrent effect as well, because what The Pentagon keeps emphasizing also is that they have the right to self-defense, right?

So, if the Taliban were to start firing on Americans, for example, start trying to attack the embassy, then these 5,000 forces are there, they're at the airport, they're pretty much all over so that they can defend themselves, they can defend the Americans on the ground. The big question that's remaining now, though, is how are we going to get all of the Afghans out that helped the U.S. military over the last two decades?

BROWN: Yes, well, it's 15,000 or so or more than that, waiting to be evacuated from Afghanistan.

All right. Natasha, thank you so much for that reporting.

And today, the President of Afghanistan. Ashraf Ghani addressed his nation saying talks are underway to mobilize forces to stop the Taliban advance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHRAF GHANI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN (through translator): Though I know that you are concerned about your present and future, I assure you that as your President, that my focus is on preventing further instability, violence, and displacement of my people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Joining me now Democratic Congressman Jason Crow from Colorado. He is a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is now on the Armed Services Committee.

Congressman, thank you for being here with us. What is your reaction to 5,000 American troops to Afghanistan? What kind of Intelligence led the President to make this move?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Hi, Pamela. Thanks for having me on. Well, this is the right move to have a surge of troops to make sure that we are protecting U.S. citizens and U.S. personnel. It's the right thing. Nobody anticipated the speed of the collapse of the Afghan Army and Defense Forces.

[18:05:10]

CROW: I certainly didn't. I knew that this would be a very difficult time as we ended our combat operations and I anticipated challenges. I certainly didn't anticipate the speed that we're seeing right now, and there is going to be a lot of questions, a lot of post mortems that are going to have to be done to assess why that happened.

But we have to do right now, because the mission is still going, we have to protect U.S. personnel and U.S. citizens, create a security perimeter around Kabul to make sure that we can do the evacuations that are necessary, first and foremost for U.S. citizens, but then secondarily, for the Afghan interpreters, our partners and allies, and also civic society leaders that we need to evacuate as well.

BROWN: Right. You know, all too well, you've developed probably close relationships with some of these allies when you were on the ground there in Afghanistan serving two tours of duty there.

I want to get to the underestimating the Taliban in a minute. But first, the President said in his statement on sending in more troops to assist with a, quote, "orderly and safe drawdown." Do you think it's downplaying what's happened on the ground in Afghanistan by saying we're continuing an orderly and safe drawdown?

CROW: No, I don't. I think there are two different issues. Clearly, the conditions on the ground with respect to the Taliban and the Afghan Army is not going well. The Afghan Army is not withstanding the Taliban's advances.

You know, after 20 years, and us helping build 300,000 Afghan military with helicopters, with an Air Force, with the command structure, with modern weaponry, and hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money, I will say, after 20 years of doing that, if that force cannot hold its own for, you know, one to two months, then, you know, I'm not sure what we could have done differently.

We are obviously going to have to ask some very hard questions about the nature of our involvement and what went wrong, and why we weren't able to be successful in doing that. But at the end of the day, you can't give people the will to fight. You can't force them to have good leadership and to stand up and fight for their country. That's a decision they have to make on their own, whether that was a decision five years ago, today, or five years from now.

So that's really what we're focusing on right now. But there's no doubt in my mind that we have the capability, we have the resources, we have the personnel to make sure that we are pushing combat power into the theater and protecting our interests.

BROWN: The decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is popular with the public, and a lot of people are saying this was inevitable. But do you think the drawdown could have been handled better to prevent this rapid takeover by the Taliban and this threat to Afghan allies and U.S. personnel?

CROW: Well, first of all, I'm heartbroken by what's going on here right now, like every combat veteran, there's a lot of veterans that I've been fielding texts and calls almost nonstop for the last week or so from all my friends that served with me. We're all heartbroken by this situation, because we left pieces of our heart there. This is not how we wanted to see it end, there's no doubt about it.

We are going to have hard discussions about what went wrong. We're going to have decades -- people are going to write books about it. There's going to be discussions and conferences about it. But right now, the focus is on protecting U.S. citizens getting us out, getting our allies out. We have a couple of days, weeks, I think to do that, in an effective and safe way and that's where the focus really has to be.

BROWN: I want to listen to the President of last year saying -- talking about, if he should feel any responsibility about a Taliban takeover.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: But then don't you bear some responsibility for the outcome if the Taliban ends up back in control? And women end up losing the fight?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I don't. Do I bear responsibility? Zero responsibility.

The responsibility I have is to protect America's national self- interests and not put our women and men in harm's way to try to solve every single problem in the world by use of force.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Do you agree the President bears no responsibility?

CROW: Well, you know, I can't get into the mind of President Biden. But he accurately described what it means to be the Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America, to protect America, to protect American interests, to protect American troops, and to make hard decisions.

You know, we are not without risk in Afghanistan. There's no doubt about that and we are seeing the consequence of this. And you know, I'm going to reserve judgment on the manner in which this withdrawal happened until we can actually look at this with some separation and perspective and actually have the information we need to have a discussion about it.

But the bottom line is, there are threats everywhere -- everywhere around the world -- China, Russia, Iran, South America, Central America, terrorism, narco-terrorism, cyberattacks, the ransomware attacks. We face threats that we have never even imagined that we would have faced just five or 10 years ago, and the President has to make decisions about how we spend our blood, our sweat, our treasure, and our limited resources to address those threats and that's a hard thing to do.

And yes, I am heartbroken by what is happening here, but there are tradeoffs to be had.

[18:10:12]

BROWN: You say you're heartbroken. You want to reserve judgment on the handling of this by President Biden. But personally, what does it feel like? You're not only a Member of Congress, you served there on the ground, with the Afghan people, with these Afghan allies who are desperately trying to get out right now.

Personally, what does it feel like for you watching this play out there?

CROW: Yes, you know, Pamela, I view this as much as an Army Ranger, a combat veteran in Afghanistan, as I do a Member of Congress, maybe even more, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. And I'm just thinking about the people that I fought with, the Afghans that stood shoulder to shoulder with me, and where they are right now and what they're doing with their families.

I'm very worried, I'm heartbroken, I'm anxious about it. I'm scared about their future, thinking about the idea that there are young women in Kabul right now who have grown up over the last 20 years, knowing nothing but the ability to have freedom to go to school, to live with dignity, and that might all change very rapidly in the weeks and months ahead.

It is a very tough pill to swallow. There's no doubt about it. But I also have to stay clear eyed and focused, because I am a Member

of Congress, and the people in the executive branch in the administration have to stay clear eyed, we have a job to do right now. There are people to be saved, and we have to stay focused and we have to expeditiously evacuate many of our partners and friends as possible. And that's what I'm calling the administration to do, to do it fast, to do it effectively, and to do it in a very broad based way.

BROWN: Really quickly, do you think that the whole U.S. Embassy should be evacuated rather than most, but not all?

CROW: I don't know. I don't have the -- as a Member of Congress, I can't sit here and say that I have real time information and the Intelligence to make that decision. That's a decision that I think the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the National Security Council, and the President have the information to be able to make.

Part of the problem is, you know, we don't want to remove capacity that we actually need to process these evacuees, to process these applications, and these people trying to apply for evacuation. So, there's a balancing act between keeping the resources in that we need to keep in to help facilitate the evacuation, but also removing folks for their safety as well and that is a tough balancing act.

But I am sitting here today, I don't have the information to tell you how that balancing act should be made, you know, as of today.

BROWN: Congressman Jason Crow, thank you so much for coming on and offering your perspective on this unfolding situation in Afghanistan.

And coming up, Haiti is in a state of emergency after a huge earthquake. The nation's lead geological agency warning tonight of quote "widespread disaster."

Also ahead, as seriously ill COVID patients overwhelm hospitals, Michael Osterholm says we need to talk about better masking. He joins me later this hour to explain.

And Tropical Storm Grace forms in the Atlantic as Fred heads for Florida, the latest forecast ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:17:20]

BROWN: A state of emergency in a nation already in deep, deep crisis. A devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti earlier today, a powerful natural disaster in the western hemisphere's poorest nation.

The barest of details are trickling out of Haiti so far. The official death toll so far is 227 people with every expectation it will climb much higher. One local hospital says it is overwhelmed with patients and has set up tents to handle the overflow.

The U.S. Geological Survey says high casualties are probable. Haiti has already been under enormous distress. As we know, the country's President was assassinated just a month ago and Haiti is still recovering from the earthquake in 2010 that killed as many as 300,000 people, and it is the last thing people in Haiti need, another disaster, but one is coming.

A tropical storm called Grace headed directly for the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It'll be there Monday or Tuesday bringing heavy winds, heavy rain, and complicating the urgent search and rescue work.

It is adding to the misery of those in Haiti who just lost their homes.

I was a local news reporter dispatched to Haiti during the terrible aftermath of the 2010 earthquake and Anderson Cooper was CNN's point man in covering the catastrophe. He joins us now by phone.

Anderson, you've actually been on the phone with someone on the ground in Haiti. What are you learning about things there?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (via phone): You know, it's obviously -- it's early hours in this and very chaotic and getting accurate information is very, very difficult as you gave the official count. I mean, as you know, the central government in Haiti is somewhat crippled right now, and so even those numbers, it's hard to gauge the accuracy of, you know, I've heard as many as 1,500 people have been injured so far.

There is a hospital, as you mentioned in Jeremy, you know, we're looking -- we're seeing the two -- these two different towns, Jeremie and Les Cayes in the South Southwest, which had been -- we're getting reports out of, but it's -- there is a hospital building there. In terms of staffing, though that's been an issue according to some on the ground that I've been talking to in Port-au-Prince who are trying to get help to Jeremie.

There is a small air ambulance service out of Port-au-Prince that I think is trying to fly to the regions to at least -- at the very least assess what is going on and also try to evacuate anybody who is in need of medical care, but again, the person I spoke to in Port-au- Prince was saying the reports they're getting are the road to Jeremie has had -- there are some issues on it, not sure if it's passable, that's going to be obviously in the days ahead.

[18:20:23]

COOPER: An important thing to try to make sure is open to get more, you know, relief workers to get more medical personnel into this area. But at this point, it's very hard to assess, you know, what the scope of this is going to be.

BROWN: That's -- I mean, it's already a country that, you know, just lost its President, assassinated a month ago. Now this. It is hard to get any hard information.

We both have spent a fair amount of time in Haiti, Anderson, and I want to talk about the Haitian people. When I was there, you know, you couldn't help but be awed by their courage and resilience. Both are really needed now.

As I mentioned, that presidential assassination last month deepened that political turmoil and the natural disasters, the 2010 quake, and the catastrophic Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Does your heart ache to see this latest soul crushing challenge they're facing?

COOPER: Yes, I mean, look, Haiti is a country which has been beset with difficulties and obstacles, both internally and external. And this is, obviously -- you know, it's the last thing anyone would want to see. There are so many issues going on in Haiti. You mentioned the assassination of the President, there's economic issues. COVID, obviously has been, you know, has been a problem.

The medical infrastructure there in the best of times is limited. There's a lot of groups on the ground, who are really, you know, really working and trying to do this. There are some medical personnel, just in videos we've seen in Jeremie, but, you know, they definitely are trying to get more medical teams in there.

They need to assess exactly what the scope of this is. And, you know, these early hours are critical just in terms of saving people's lives and getting people medical attention.

BROWN: I want to revisit one of the most vivid memories of CNN's coverage back then. But first, I do want to warn that these images are disturbing, an admitted chaotic and violent clash, a young boy was struck in the head with a chunk of concrete.

Anderson, I'm sure you remember that vividly. Do you fear that it will descend into similar chaos and violence now, like what we are seeing here?

COOPER: Yes, I think that that was a -- you know, there wasn't -- in terms of violence, you know, there was more -- that was just a very chaotic situation. And, you know, I was lucky to be there and, you know, be able to help in some tiny little way.

But, you know, for the most part, you know, the Haitian people are incredibly resilient and have had to face things which most people could hardly even imagine, just getting through a day or getting through, you know, just surviving with the multiple issues that have struck Haiti and have befallen in Haiti over the year.

So, there is huge resilience. But, you know, this is an emergency situation. Buildings have collapsed. There are clearly going to be people trapped inside rubble right now. You know, we saw in Port-a- Prince in 2010, you know, the day after the earthquake, I landed the morning after the earthquake. And, you know, for days, they were trying to pull people out of rubble who were still alive, people who had died. There wasn't a lot of heavy earthmoving equipment.

So, you know, when you have pancaked buildings, concrete, slabs on top of each other, right now, there's a lot of people digging through rubble with their bare hands to try to get to people who may still be alive inside and trying to get equipment to those people. And, you know, beyond just some shovels or rakes or whatever they may

have on hand, that's going to be another whole issue, and particularly if the roads are out, so I mean, there's -- there are so many layers of obstacles and difficulties and you know, it's just -- it is a terrible thing, especially with a tropical storm coming in. That is the last thing anybody else needs.

BROWN: For sure. Anderson Cooper, thank you so much for joining us.

COOPER: I appreciate it. Thank you.

BROWN: Well, the delta variant is making cautious people in most of the country cover their faces again, and my next guest stresses that the type of mask matters. When we come back, I'll speak to Michael Osterholm, who advised President Biden on COVID before the inauguration.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)'

[18:29:23]

BROWN: The U.S. continues to set new benchmarks in a resurgent pandemic. This week, surpassing 36 million total cases of COVID-19, the most in the world. And these eight states, most of them, in the South, COVID patients now account for at least 15 percent of hospitalizations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: This is starting to look really ominous in the South where I am. I mean, we're now, if you look at the rates of transmission in Florida and Louisiana, they're actually probably the highest in the world.

That's how badly things have gotten out hand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[18:30:25]

BROWN: Many of these states with the highest infection rates are aware a pitched battle is underway over mask mandates for schools. But the FDA and CDC agree it is time to start allowing a third booster dose for people with compromised immune systems. Overall, that's a small number of people, but they make up a disproportionate number of breakthrough infections, roughly a third.

Joining me now for some analysis of where we are and where we are headed is Michael Osterholm, Director at the Center Of Infectious Disease Research at the University of Minnesota. He was also on the Biden Transition COVID Advisory Board. Thank you for joining us, Michael.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, CENTER OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Thank you. BROWN: You have been warning for months about COVID complacency and

now we are seeing hospitals fill up, schools having to shut down days after reopening. Where are we right now and where are we headed?

OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, we shouldn't have been surprised by this situation. I realized that there was a time where a case numbers were very low and people assumed that the pandemic had ended in the United States. We had vaccine coming. But let me just remind you that we have over 90 million Americans yet today who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not, that's more than enough human wood out there for this coronavirus forest fire to burn.

So this particular surge we're in right now really is unknown how long or how high it may get in terms of cases. I think right now my best guesstimate is if we had to look at those Southern Sun Belt states, maybe we have two or three more weeks at least of increasing numbers.

But I think the big challenge is are we going to see other areas of the country that are now beginning to light up, the Southeast, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Southern Illinois. We're starting to see the upper Midwest. We're starting to see the far west, State of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Some evidence in Southern California.

If those areas begin to show major increases like we've just seen in the south, then this particular surge could last literally for another month and the numbers could be really quite ominous. So it's not clear yet what's going to happen, but I can tell you it's not good.

And even then, let me remind you that we still will not had most of these 90 million people who have yet to be vaccinated infected and will be vulnerable to another surge three, four or five months down the road and that's the way this virus acts.

BROWN: That was going to be my next question. What about mutations, variants, once you get to this one, what about future surges, you just set it. And as we're hearing this from you, people are wondering about protection, even those who have been vaccinated particularly those like the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, they don't fit into this immunocompromised category unnecessarily. Most of people though were first in line to get the vaccine more than six months ago. Why aren't they able to get booster shots now?

OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, let's clarify the use of a booster shot versus a primary series.

BROWN: Third shot.

OSTERHOLM: Right. And I think this is an important distinction, though, because as you know the World Health Organization has urged countries not to give booster shots so that we might move vaccine to low and middle-income countries where the variant development with all those infections is even a much greater risk than the variant development in the United States.

If we look at the current situation with immune compromised individuals, that 7 million to 8 million people that did not respond to the first two doses, that's different. So really the third dose is part of the primary series, just like we see with childhood immunizations where in some cases it takes three or four doses before the kids are adequately protected.

So that's different than the situation of now people who did respond, but their immunity is waning. And let me just say that over the course of the upcoming weeks, I think people will be confused, unfortunately. But let me make two points, one is that there is nothing at all in any of these discussions about safety. The vaccines are safe.

By far the greatest risk you have of having a bad outcome is not getting vaccinated. But we will be discussing what I call corrected science, so science as a correcting profession where we're going to learn more about what happens after six to eight months following vaccination among who the people such as the older age population.

As you just pointed out in your lead in, Pamela, you talked about health care workers and those in long-term care, why? Because they were the very first ones vaccinated and now they're at that six to eight-month kind of period. So I would just say that stay tuned, we're going to learn a lot not about safety, so there shouldn't be nothing to deter you from getting vaccine. It's going to be how to best use these vaccines to get the most protection.

BROWN: Right, how long they're effective and I think that's an important distinction. And I want to ask you as we're talking about protecting ourselves, you have been critical of a lot of masks such especially cloth masks. You've urged people to get N95. Reminder us what is the key difference and what do we need to know about masks?

OSTERHOLM: Well, this is an unfortunate situation because as you know you can't nuanced this issue and actually try to explain what this is really about for maximum protection because it immediately boils down to are you for mask or not and it's all a political discussion.

[18:35:04]

As I've stated, dating way back to April of 2020 in the earliest days of the pandemic, we know that this virus is transmitted largely by aerosols. Those very tiny particles that right now as I speak are filling this room. If I wanted to understand an aerosol, I would be in a room with someone who is smoking a cigarette, and say, oh, my, I can smell that very quickly even if I'm 20 feet away.

And then I would say whatever I'm using to protect myself prevent me from smelling that, if you don't, then you know what you're going to have viruses leak into whatever you have. And what I've been really strongly urging is, yes, mask, but mask with the most highly efficient and effective means you have and these were the N95 masks.

A year ago, we told people not to use them, because we had a major shortage in this country due to the fact that health care workers needed them. Now we have an abundant supply, use them. And when you use them, please don't wear them under your nose. Up to a quarter of the people routinely put whatever they have under

their nose. That's nothing more than a chin diaper and it doesn't provide you any protection. And so again, we also need to instruct people on how to use them and I think that's the important message on masking.

BROWN: That nuance is important though. Michael Osterholm, thank you so much for your time on this Saturday night. We really appreciate you coming on the show.

OSTERHOLM: Thank you.

BROWN: Well, while the U.S. is deeply divided along party lines over the January 6th insurrection and the election lies that sparked it, federal judges are standing up and staying united keeping democracy afloat. I'll speak to longtime election lawyer, Ben Ginsberg about that up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:41:18]

BROWN: The January 6 insurrection at the Capitol stunned the nation to the point that it led to a second impeachment and the arrest of hundreds of rioters. But while the response from lawmakers split mainly along party lines, there is one consistent and vocal source of condemnation, that would be the federal bench.

Listen to what judges are saying as defendants keep rolling in, trying to wrap themselves in the flag. One judge told a defendant during sentencing, "You called yourself and everyone else patriots, but that's not patriotism. That is the tyranny that we rejected on July Fourth."

Another judge labeled the attack 'a disgrace to our country'. A third judge said the riot should be an embarrassment to every American.

Two of those three judges were appointed by Republican presidents. But this outrage from the bench goes beyond the attempted coup right into the big lie that filled it. A federal judge in Colorado was ordering two lawyers to pay the legal fees of everyone they sued while challenging the 2020 election.

He wrote, "This was no slip-and-fall at the local grocery store, albeit disorganized and fantastical, the Complaint's allegations are the stuff of which violent insurrections are made."

With me now, CNN Legal Analyst and Republican Election Lawyer, Ben Ginsberg, he is represented for GOP presidential candidates and worked on the Bush legal team in the 2000 Supreme Court battle against Al Gore.

Nice to see you, Ben.

BEN GINSBERG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Nice to see you, Pamela. BROWN: Just set the stage for us how unusual is it for the judicial

system to play what may seem like an outsized role protecting democracy?

GINSBERG: I think it's an outside role in this context in which judges are sworn to do is uphold the rule of law. And so when there are violations of the law, something like the insurrection in the Capitol that tried to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power and there are cases against the people who were behind the insurrection, then it's natural for the courts and judges to, again, uphold the rule of law and the values of the country.

It's especially a loud voice now, because as you pointed out in the introduction, the message from Capitol Hill takes on partisan tones whenever it's made in the Republicans. It really, unfortunately, taken an odd turn in condemning the violence.

BROWN: And this is coming from a Republican election lawyer. We talked about the strong language that these judges are using. Do you think it is more about lecturing the defendants or teaching the public, sending a strong message to the public amid what we're hearing from some of these Republican lawmakers?

GINSBERG: The judiciary is the chief exemplar of our institutions and really are norms. And I think these judges, there's a reason judges are appointed for life, which is in a situation like this. They can step back from the political heat and talk about the values of the Constitution, the values of the country itself and I think that's what judges of both parties are doing, appointed by presidents of both parties. And they're really taking a step back from the politics of the day and talking about the basic principles of the country.

BROWN: Is there another time in history where we have seen the judiciary play such a big role in protecting democracy?

GINSBERG: It's a great question. There have been certainly times of great stress on our institutions in the past. Watergate was certainly one, the Vietnam War and there are instances, the race riots in the early '60s.

[18:45:07]

This is a time where the legal process is really front and center ahead of the political process in having to basically sort of write the situation and reaffirm the values.

BROWN: What do you think would have happened after the election if these judges appointed by both Republican and Democratic presidents, if they weren't upholding their oath?

GINSBERG: Well, I think that would have put the country in an even more tenuous position. So thank goodness that these judges did that. I mean, not only in dealing with the insurrectionists, but also in the flood of post election cases, the contest, the recounts, the litigation. Judges really did stick by the rule of law in that situation. And today, you see instances of courts holding some of the lawyers who

made the most irresponsible charges accountable. The Colorado sanctions that you mentioned, Rudy Giuliani has had his bar license suspended by the State of New York, Sidney Powell went through a really difficult hearing up in Michigan where a federal judge is considering sanction motions as well. All those cases and there are others pending send a message.

BROWN: Yep, they send a message loud and clear. Ben Ginsberg, thank you so much for coming on.

GINSBERG: Thanks, Pamela.

BROWN: People in Haiti frantically searching for victims of today's massive earthquake and now a new emergency heading their way, a tropical storm. The latest on its position and track, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:51:17]

BROWN: Haiti is in a state of emergency tonight. Official saying more than 200 people are dead after a major earthquake hit the island this morning and now a powerful storm could add to the misery. CNN's Gene Norman has more details.

Gene, there are two major storms you're tracking, when and where are they expected to make landfall?

GENE NORMAN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Pamela, Grace will hit the Dominican Republic in Haiti likely on Monday. Fred, now just an area of low pressure is moving into the Gulf of Mexico. That's going to affect the U.S. probably by Monday. Let's take Grace first, because that has the biggest impact on the recovery efforts in Haiti.

It's moving about as fast as an Olympic sprinter at 26 miles an hour to the west. Hurricane hunter planes went in today, found the winds weren't as strong down to 40 from where they were from 45 miles an hour earlier today. But it's bringing some squally weather to places like St. Vincent and Guadeloupe and now that kind of bad weather will be heading for the Dominican - for the Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands tomorrow. They're under a tropical storm warning in blue.

In yellow, you see parts of the Dominican Republic are under a tropical storm watch. Haiti not under a watch yet but that will likely change either late tonight or tomorrow. And as far as the winds when this storm gets to Haiti, it could have 60-mile-an-hour winds along with heavy rain where the epicenter of the earthquake was Lokhai (ph). They could see about four inches.

But take a look at the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, they could see six to eight inches, flooding and mudslides definitely a concern. As far as Fred, again, it will likely become a tropical storm again tomorrow, head for the Alabama-Florida border on Monday. Likely some isolated tornadoes and then heavy rain, Pamela. Take a look at this. We could be seeing six to eight inches from

Alabama and Georgia northward into North and South Carolina. And we're not at the peak of hurricane season yet, we're four letters behind where we were at the same time last year.

BROWN: That does not bode well for what's ahead. All right. Gene Norman, thank you so much.

At least 44 people are dead after extreme flooding in Northern Turkey. This video right here, new to CNN, showing the aftermath. Several buildings as you see have collapsed and dozens of people are still missing. The floods come just days after wildfires raised across Turkey's Mediterranean Coast.

And the fires forced thousands of families out of their homes. A Russian firefighting plane crashed while helping fight the fires. All eight crew members died.

And in Greece, hundreds of wildfires are burning throughout the country this weekend. More than 20 countries have sent people, planes and equipment to help in the fight. CNN's Eleni Giokos has more from Greece.

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ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: I'm Eleni Giokos in Evia, Greece and this was the epicenter of the wildfires that ravaged through the country. Now, it's under control according to emergency services but there's major monitoring of the rekindling of fires. You're seeing firemen standing by and ready to fight once again.

Now, you're also seeing airplanes carrying water to try and cool the land down. One firefighter said that this slow burn of the forest could continue for months. In the meantime, residents are tallying up the losses, the loss of homes and infrastructure, the loss of vital forests, 465 square kilometers of forest has been decimated leaving a lot of agricultural production completely gone.

The other big concern here is about the future, if it starts to rain there's a worry about potential mudslides because the forest will act as a natural defense system. In the meantime, the Prime Minister says that he apologizes for the weaknesses and the response to the fires in the contributors, but has also defended the fact that they focused on evacuations and not on putting out fires in places like Evia,

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But for residents, it wasn't enough. They feel anger and they feel disappointments.

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BROWN: Eleni Giokos, thank you.

Well, Afghanistan is in chaos tonight as Taliban control Titans and America scrambles to get its allies to safety. Up next, CNN gets exclusive access to a former U.S. base that is now home to Taliban fighters.

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